1. MURMURING AND COMPLAINING AGAIN
a. Why did the Israelites again murmur when they came to the wilderness of Sin? Exodus 16:1–3.
“They had not as yet suffered from hunger; their present wants were supplied, but they feared for the future. They could not understand how these vast multitudes were to subsist in their travels through the wilderness, and in imagination they saw their children famishing. The Lord permitted difficulties to surround them, and their supply of food to be cut short, that their hearts might turn to Him who had hitherto been their Deliverer. If in their want they would call upon Him, He would still grant them manifest tokens of His love and care. He had promised that if they would obey His commandments, no disease should come upon them, and it was sinful unbelief on their part to anticipate that they or their children might die of hunger. . . .
“They saw and felt only their present inconveniences and trials; and instead of saying, ‘God has done great things for us; whereas we were slaves, He is making of us a great nation,’ they talked of the hardness of the way, and wondered when their weary pilgrimage would end.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 292, 293.
2. REBUKING THE MURMURERS
a. What did the Lord provide, and how did He test the people in the supply of their daily provisions? Exodus 16:4, 5.
b. What was the response of Moses and Aaron to the unreasonable murmurings of the people? Exodus 16:6–10.
“Moses assured the congregation that their wants were to be supplied: ‘The Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full.’ And he added, ‘What are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.’ He further bade Aaron say to them, ‘Come near before the Lord: for He hath heard your murmurings.’ While Aaron was speaking, ‘they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.’ A splendor such as they had never witnessed symbolized the divine Presence. Through manifestations addressed to their senses, they were to obtain a knowledge of God. They must be taught that the Most High, and not merely the man Moses, was their leader, that they might fear His name and obey His voice.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 294, 295.
c. What promises do we have regarding our provision of food today? Philippians 4:19; Psalm 37:25. How can we be like the murmuring children of Israel in this regard?
“Though their present needs are supplied, many are unwilling to trust God for the future, and they are in constant anxiety lest poverty shall come upon them, and their children shall be left to suffer. Some are always anticipating evil or magnifying the difficulties that really exist, so that their eyes are blinded to the many blessings which demand their gratitude. The obstacles they encounter, instead of leading them to seek help from God, the only Source of strength, separate them from Him, because they awaken unrest and repining. . . .
“No place should be given to that distrust of God which leads us to make a preparation against future want the chief pursuit of life, as though our happiness consisted in these earthly things. It is not the will of God that His people should be weighed down with care.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 293, 294.
3. GOD PROVIDES FOR HIS PEOPLE
a. What kind of food did the Lord supply to the Israelites in the evening and in the morning on one occasion and later for one month? Exodus 16:11–15. Why was God so particular in the type of food He supplied for them?
“If the Israelites had been given the diet to which they had been accustomed while in Egypt, they would have exhibited the unmanageable spirit that the world is exhibiting today. In the diet of men and women in this age there are included many things that the Lord would not have permitted the children of Israel to eat. The human family as it is today is an illustration of what the children of Israel would have been if God had allowed them to eat the food and follow the habits and customs of the Egyptians.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1102.
“In Egypt their taste had become perverted. God designed to restore their appetite to a pure, healthy state, in order that they might enjoy the simple fruits that were given to Adam and Eve in Eden. He was about to establish them in a second Eden, a goodly land, where they might enjoy the fruits and grains that He would provide for them. He purposed to remove the feverish diet upon which they had subsisted in Egypt; for He wished them to be in perfect health and soundness when they entered the goodly land to which He was leading them, so that the surrounding heathen nations might be constrained to glorify the God of Israel, the God who had done so wonderful a work for His people. Unless the people who acknowledged Him as the God of heaven were in perfect soundness of health, His name could not be glorified.”—Ibid.
b. Describe the manna and how it was to be prepared. Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7, 8.
“In the morning there lay upon the surface of the ground ‘a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost.’ ‘It was like coriander seed, white.’ The people called it ‘manna.’ Moses said, ‘This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.’ The people gathered the manna, and found that there was an abundant supply for all. They ‘ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it.’ Numbers 11:8. ‘And the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.’”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 295.
4. GATHERING THE MANNA
a. What directions did the people receive for gathering manna? Exodus 16:16–26. How did the manna illustrate the necessity of Sabbath observance before the giving of the law at Sinai?
“Every week during their long sojourn in the wilderness the Israelites witnessed a threefold miracle, designed to impress their minds with the sacredness of the Sabbath: a double quantity of manna fell on the sixth day, none on the seventh, and the portion needed for the Sabbath was preserved sweet and pure, when if any were kept over at any other time it became unfit for use.
“In the circumstances connected with the giving of the manna, we have conclusive evidence that the Sabbath was not instituted, as many claim, when the law was given at Sinai. Before the Israelites came to Sinai they understood the Sabbath to be obligatory upon them. In being obliged to gather every Friday a double portion of manna in preparation for the Sabbath, when none would fall, the sacred nature of the day of rest was continually impressed upon them.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 296.
b. How long did the daily supply of manna last? Exodus 16:35. Why did God remove it?
“ ‘On the fourteenth day of the month at even,’ the Passover was celebrated on the plains of Jericho. ‘And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan.’ The long years of their desert wanderings were ended. The feet of Israel were at last treading the Promised Land.”—Ibid., p. 486.
c. Why was a pot of manna kept in the ark of the covenant? Exodus 16:32, 33; Hebrews 9:4.
5. EATING MANNA TODAY
a. What is the manna that we are to gather and eat today? Jeremiah 15:16; John 6:63 (second part). How often do we need to do this?
“[God’s] words are the manna from heaven for the soul to feed upon and receive spiritual strength. The Bible is the great standard of right and wrong, clearly defining sin and holiness. Its living principles, running through our lives like threads of gold, are our only safeguard in trial and temptation.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 422.
“Each must come to Christ with his own soul hunger, each must have his own convictions, feel his own soul’s need, and learn of Christ for himself.
“Filled with the Bread of Life, we cannot hunger for earthly attractions, worldly excitements, and earthly grandeur. Our religious experience will be of the same order as the food upon which we feed.
“The food we eat at one meal does not satisfy us forever. We must daily partake of food. So we must daily eat the Word of God that the life of the soul may be renewed. In those who feed constantly upon the Word, Christ is formed, the hope of glory. A neglect to read and study the Bible brings spiritual starvation.”—Our High Calling, p. 209.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What kind of things did the children of Israel complain about? How did this reveal a lack of faith?
2. What am I forgetting when I focus on the difficulties and the evil around me?
3. What happens when I eat the food and follow the customs of Egypt? Why should I be so concerned about being healthy?
4. How did the supply of manna impress upon God’s people the sacredness of the Sabbath?
5. As I fill myself with the Bread of Life, through the study of the Word, what will happen to me? Why is it so important for me to eat this Bread every day?